Posted: March 26th, 2021

The Aspect of Plea Bargaining In The Case Of State V. McAlister

The Aspect of Plea Bargaining In The Case Of State V. McAlister


The Aspect of Plea Bargaining In The Case Of State V. McAlister
Plea bargaining allows people charged under criminal law to appear in court and accept or reject the offense filed against them. Under plea bargaining, one can either choose to plead guilty or plead not guilty. The main law governing plea bargaining in the United States is the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Most of the time, a person may choose to plead guilty even when he did not commit the offense because the prosecution may have placed a lighter sentence on anyone who pleads guilty other than pleading not guilty. It saves the prosecution’s time. This act by the prosecution is sometimes objected under constitutional grounds in that the determination of the case based on the circumstances was not fair. The court is required to look into the case’s facts and whether the person pleaded guilty voluntarily or was forced. This rule was introduced after 1772, where defendants were put under torture to force them to plead guilty. Recent case law has insisted on the rule of voluntariness in plea bargaining (Berdejó, 2018). A voluntary plea of guilty has been interpreted as taking a plea that is free from bribing or violence. Once the court accepts the plea of guilty, the defendant is rendered guilty of the offense and convicted. The prosecution’s burden is to prove to the court that plea bargaining was done under free will. The plea of guilty here is then used as a piece of evidence adduced in court for conviction.
When one can be said to have taken the plea of not guilty, one may choose to state it verbally or refuse to take a plea. Under other circumstances, a defendant may enter a plea that requires heavy interpretation, for example, where one is asked if he or she committed murder. He or she states that he ‘pleads guilty for the life of humanity. ‘Once in court, the court observes the client’s knowledge of the facts of the case, the laws, the rights, and all privileges that surround the case. After that, the court will ensure that the defendant pleads guilty to the correct facts knowing the consequences of the plea of guilty. The plea may be given to the court in the form of an agreement by the defendant and the prosecution. It may be done when the defendant is in custody or when he or she is already out of police custody. When the defendant is in police custody, he or she is brought in court, and the charges are read out again, and she accepts the charges once more.
The court then looks at the circumstances under the plea of guilty and whether they are fair. In terms of being fair, the judge looks at the seriousness of the offense, the defendant’s criminal record, and if the sentence is appropriate to the offense committed. The prosecution may attempt to place unfair terms against the defendant, which is why the court often looks at the rights in favor of the defendant. The court, in looking at this, would want to know whether the defendant knows the charge if he or she admits the charge placed, if he or she has knowledge of the consequences of the plea and whether taking the plea of guilty would reduce the sentences (Clatch, 2017). The judge would also look at whether the rights such as the right to be legally represented, the right to cross-examination, the right to be tried by the jury, and the right to self –incrimination have been properly looked at. According to the case of Godinez v Moran, U.S.Sup.Ct 1993, the aspect of knowledge of the case’s facts is so important in plea taking such that one cannot take a plea without it.
To plead guilty in double jeopardy, a defendant may plead guilty of the offense and then assert other claims. Often, even after a client pleads guilty, he or she may file a claim when he is not acquitted. This is normal and has been discussed in case of law under the case of Brady v United States, United States v Jackson, and Parker v North Carolina. In the cases, the courts have noted that the defendant may bring claims based on constitutional grounds to review a case under which they had pleaded guilty. The court here looks at whether the defendant knew the case’s facts and that the prosecution did not coerce the guilty plea.
An example is the change of a statute like in the case of Brady v United States., In this case, the defendant, Mr. Brady, had accepted a plea offer to evade the death penalty. On conviction, Brady went on to file a claim because of the choice he had earlier made. The court determined that the plea’s choice was made voluntarily and was not affected by the law that had banned the offense of the death penalty. The court also noted that all his rights, such as legal representation, had been properly considered. In another case of Harrison v United States 392 U.S 219(1968), the court insisted on free will. It stated that a plea entered under a forced confession from the jury or the prosecution was not fair, and the court compared it to the ‘fruits of a poisonous tree.’ The underlining factor in the conclusitivity of a plea of guilty is that it can be challenged in court so long as it is challenged by an issue that cannot be cured unless the case is determined fresh in court.
In the case of State v McAlister, as established in the fact sheet, Mr. Jose McAlister can accept the plea of guilty so long as it fulfills the standards of fairness as established above; which are the presence of legal representation, the presence of free will such that the prosecution is not to have exerted fear or violence to the taking of the plea. The option of taking or not taking the plea, however, lies with the defendant. Once the agreement has been reached, it is to be taken to court for judgment. It is to be noted that there still lays a locus standi for Mr. Jose McAlister in case the court passes the agreement into a judgment.

Berdejó, C. (2018). Criminalizing Race: Racial disparities in plea-bargaining. BCL, Rev., 59, 1187.
Clatch, L. (2017). Shining a Light on the Shadow-of-Trial Model: A Bridge Between Discounting and Plea Bargaining. Minn. L. Rev., 102, 923.
Law, U. State v. McAlister Appellant’s Brief Dckt. 44128.


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